Morgan Tuck’s return after missing eight games in the aftermath of undergoing knee surgery Nov. 12 did not go well. She had one assist, two turnovers and one foul in nine scoreless minutes at Duke Dec. 17.
Sunday’s performance against California at Madison Square did not start out well either. Tuck entered the game for the first time with 14:44 left in the first half, committing a foul and a turnover 34 seconds later. She was charged with her second foul with 11:25 left and UConn coach Geno Auriemma pulled her from the game.
However, once she returned to the floor – and after committing a turnover by stepping over the end line trying to inbound the ball – things began to work themselves out for Tuck. She would make two 3-pointers in a span of 75 seconds and added two assists in the final 6:39 of the first half.
“She really (upset me) early in the game,’’ Auriemma said. “Because I thought the Duke game she struggled and really didn’t accomplish a whole lot. And then (Sunday), the same thing. It’s uncharacteristic stuff that you wouldn’t expect. And then you step inbounds inbounding the ball. Just goofy stuff like that. And, again, that’s what I mean by she hasn’t played a lot because of the injury. Then you throw in exams and then you throw in the long layoff, and you’re just not there.
“So the fact that when she started making shots, all her confidence started to come back. We’re a different team when she’s playing well because you already have to worry about (Breanna Stewart), you have to worry about Stefanie (Dolson). You’ve got (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis) out on the perimeter. Now all of a sudden this kid comes off the bench and starts knocking in shots. We’re a different team when she’s playing well.’’
Tuck carried the momentum over to the second half, generating six points, one rebound and one assist in playing all 20 minutes. She did not commit a turnover or a foul.
“I think Morgan played great,’’ Stewart said. “She struggled a little bit in the beginning, but she bounced back from it quick. She knocked down two 3s and then was still aggressive in the second half.’’
Here is what Pittsburgh men’s coach Jamie Dixon had to say about Stewart …
“This is the first time I’ve had the chance to sit down and see her play and she’s unbelievable,’’ Dixon said. “Her fundamentals are so solid. She passes and she rebounds. She scores in so many different ways – jump hooks with either hand, turnarounds, short jumpers, 3-pointers … And I saw all that in just one game. She’s only going to improve.’’